Categories: FIP

Prevalence of feline infectious peritonitis in specific cat breeds

The source of this article on the prevalence of feline infectious peritonitis in specific cat breeds is a research paper of the same title from Science Direct, available online since 1 July 2005 and prepared and written by Loretta D. Pesteanu-Somogyi DVM, Christina Radzai DVM, Barrak M. Pressler DVM, DACVIM. The study took place over 16 years and involved 11,535 cats of known breed. 36 different purebred breeds were examined. The research has a pedigree to use cat fancy terminology. This page is my summary. It is as objective as I can make it.

See Feline FIP for information on the disease and this section of Cat Health Problems for a brief overview. FIP is a very serious illness causing the cat a lot of distress.

A general search of the internet as at 19th July 2010 revealed no reference to this research paper. You have to search Google Scholar to find it.

As FIP is an important and deadly disease it is also important to know how it affects individual cat breeds. The health of cat breeds is important to people as the following PoC Poll indicates:

This photo (below) of Baby Sid by Flickr photographer Elizabeth Beers was taken in December 2007. She says he had just been to vet and almost certainly had FIP. I don’t know how it panned out. This page is dedicated to Baby Sid.

A predisposition to contracting FIP may indicate a less robust constitution in a cat breed. Cat breed health is somewhat dictated by breeding techniques.

FIP is more common in purebred cats (two studies 1971 and 2001). In fact the report states that, “purebred cats were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with FIP than were mixed breed cats”.

Breeds with “a prevalence of FIP significantly greater than mixed breed cats included”:

Cat breeds with a prevalence for FIP not significantly greater than random bred cats were:

Cat breeds with “an FIP prevalence of zero” were:

Note: with respect to the above list of 23 cat breeds sample sizes for some were very small. Good sample sizes were in place with respect to the Maine Coon (151) and Balinese (25).

Risk factors for the development of FIP are:

  • young cats (3 months to 3 years of age)
  • multi-cat households
  • intact males
  • all intact cats (not neutered)
  • winter months
  • FeLV infection
  • stress
  • high coronavirus antibody titer
  • regular introduction of new cats
  • increased frequency of coronavirus shedding

Conclusion

The research on the prevalence of feline infectious peritonitis in specific cat breeds indicates that some breeds may be more likely to develop FIP. Here is a chart:

This chart specifies those breeds with FIP prevalence significantly different from mixed breed cats.

What is the reason for this? Cheetahs have high inbreeding and a very high prevalence of FIP. It is suggested therefore that the higher prevalence in some purebred cats is due to “inherited factors through inbreeding or small founder populations”.

The chart indicates that Birmans were the most affected by FIP. They have a high coefficient of inbreeding (COI) see Birman health.

There may be “confounding factors”, which I take to mean factors that muddy the picture. These are:

  • Purebred cats are raised in catteries – multi-cat, potentially stressful environments.
  • Cattery cats are potentially exposed more to feline coronavirus.
  • Owners of purebred are more likely to have their cats tested.

Further research is required. I hope this helps people who are considering buying a purebred cat. Breeders too might learn something from this. Please note, though, that this is not a breeder bashing exercise. I am simply presenting information that should prove useful.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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